Keeping a cat’s nails neat and trimmed is something lots of pet owners say they struggle with. However, once you’ve mastered the technique hopefully you’ll be able to wave goodbye to nasty scratches on both your furniture and members of your household.
Nails that get too long can cause cats pain, problems with walking and a range of other medical issues. Nail trimming can, however, be an anxious time because cats can get stressed and resist.
Read on to find out how to make a nail-clipping a more pleasurable experience for both you and your cat.
Training Your Cat When They’re Still a Kitten
The best time to get cats used to the idea of nail-clipping is when they are kittens. The earlier you can train them to associate nail trims with positive experiences the better. Once a kitten is a month or 2 old, you can start.
Always use treats to reward your kitten. Never scold them if they struggle a little. Cats and other animals rarely learn through punishment. Keep some favorite toys handy and work out which position your kitten prefers to be in when you touch them.
Your kitten will need to be at ease and relaxed. You might find wrapping them in a towel works well so they can sit securely and snugly on your lap. Other kittens may feel more comfortable standing during a nail trim.
Preparation is key for a successful nail-trimming session:
- Get all your supplies together including your nail trimmers
- Always have a spare towel to hand and plenty of tasty treats
- Have styptic powder available to prevent bleeding if you trim a nail too short
Work on making the handling of your kitten’s feet a positive experience for them. Stroke and touch their paws when they look relaxed and are enjoying a few treats. If your kitten begins to wriggle or seems stressed, withdraw from touching their paws.
Take Things Slowly
Start by trying to trim one nail once your kitten appears relaxed. Give them a treat as soon as the trim is complete.
Don’t move straight on to trimming more nails. Instead, give your kitten a break and practice trimming again during another session later in the day.
It would also be a mistake to make your kitten afraid of lying on your lap for fear they’re always about to get their nails trimmed. Ensure you stroke them regularly in the same position that you trim their nails.
Taking things slowly and carefully is essential to prevent overwhelming your kitten. You need to set the tone for the future so that your cat enjoys the nail trimming experience once they grow into adults.
Clipping Your Adult Cat’s Nails
It may not always be possible to train your pet from when they were a kitten, perhaps because they were a rescue cat. Whatever your cat’s age, you should always trim your cat’s nails in a calm and quiet location.
It’s often best to start when your cat’s feeling lazy, after a meal for example. Choose a spot that’s far away from windows or other pets to minimize distractions.
There are cats that don’t like having their feet touched or played with. They might even find this more uncomfortable than the trim itself.
Using plenty of patience and perseverance, you should aim to get your cat used to having their paws touched. Start by placing one paw between your fingers and then rub it gently for a few seconds.
Next, gently squeeze the toe so that a nail pops out and extends. Release the paw straight away and offer your cat a treat. Practice this three times a day or so until your cat grows accustomed to it and stops resisting.
Keep the clippers in your cat’s view so that they can examine them and get familiar with them.
Time to Start Clipping!
Place your cat in your lap but facing away from you. Gently put one of your cat’s paws into your hand. Press on the pad until you see their claw. If the claw is in need of a trim, cut the sharpest point only. This lessens the risk of cutting the quick.
When you’ve finished trimming the nail, release the paw and give your cat a treat if you think they’ve been aware of what’s been going on. If your cat seems relaxed and oblivious to the trimming, move on to the other nails.
Some cats may want you to stop after you’ve trimmed a couple of nails. In these cases, you should finish off and let your cat wander away. Make sure to reward them beforehand.
You may need to pursue trimming using several short sessions to get the job done.
Remember to Never Cut to the Quick
When you examine a cat’s claw, you’ll notice there’s a darker section located inside the mainly clear, hard exterior. We refer to this as the quick and it’s home to lots of nerves and blood vessels.
You must never cut to the quick. If you do, your cat may bleed and is likely to become get stressed. Only ever trim the white part of the claw. It’s wiser to leave more of the nail uncut rather than to risk cutting too much off and damaging the quick.
As with kittens, you may want to have a styptic stick or powder available to stop any bleeding in case of an accident.
Trimming nails about every two weeks or so will keep your cat’s claws under control. Don’t confuse nail trimming with de-clawing. This is something that vets will almost always discourage.
If you have any questions about trimming nails or are wondering if it’s right for your cat, get in touch with us now. We will be able to put your mind at rest.
We’re Always on Hand to Help
The best advice when trimming your cat’s nails is not to rush it and never to begin if your cat feels stressed or upset. Take things at a steady pace by trimming a few nails at a time.
There are lots more articles in our blog section to keep you and your cat or kitten happy and healthy. If you have any concerns about your cat’s welfare, contact us now. There will always be a qualified vet on hand to offer reassurance.
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